Judokas spreading the way.
IJF News - 10 August, 2016
Five! Five days of judo, five days of a breathtaking show of elite sport and five women and five men already at the top of the Olympics, while four are still to be decided by the end of the week. Here is the simple conclusion that can be drawn after the female and male categories of the day and for sure, there has been joy and a good mood hanging under the Carioca Arena 2 roof for several days. The whole day was marked by emotion. Obviously, that of two new Olympic champions. But that also, among others, to see a great champion, a legend, Ilias ILIADIS (GRE), who was having his last competition today on the international scene. Olympic champion in Athens in 2004, at the age of just 17, and triple world champion, the Greek bows out after an incredible career.
His smile and his kindness is only matched by his impressive record, Ilias ILIADIS will be missed on the international circuit. All credit belongs to this renowned ippon artist! It was also probably the last chance to see at the Games another exceptional athlete, the French Gevrise EMANE, who was ready as ever to finally win the Olympic medal missing from her collection. Fate, destiny and especially the brilliant Sally CONWAY had another idea. Perhaps we will see the lioness EMANE on the circuit again in the years to come. Anyway, she is and will remain a champion with a big heart (she is involved in many humanitarian projects) and a champion whose will to win marked her generation. Bravo!
Rio 2016 Olympic Games -90kg champion BAKER Mashu (JPN)
This day was also marked by the opening match of the two athletes from the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT). With a total of 10 competitors over all sports, there are two judoka, Yolande BUKASA and Popole MISANGA. Living in Brazil and coached by Geraldo BERNARDES, they showed that despite the adversity it was still possible to dream and do great things.
Refugee Olympic team member Yolande BUKASA (white) in -70kg action against Linda BOLDER (ISR)
From L-R: Yolande BUKASA, coach Geraldo Bernardes, Popole Misenga (ROT)
The next two days of competition will be devoted to the heavier categories. On Thursday the men’s -100kg and women’s -78kg categories will be in action on the tatami to battle for the supreme title while the final day of the judo tournament will be dedicated to the heavyweights.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games -70kg champion TACHIMOTO Haruka (JPN)
At the end of this emotional day, the IJF President, Mr. Marius Vizer said: “I was impressed today by the performance of the Chinese Athlete, CHENG Xunzhao. He showed amazing skills and defeated several of the top favorites. That offers me the opportunity to thank some of our great athletes who participated in their last Games. Ilias ILIADIS from Greece and Gevrise EMANE from France are among our best role models. They are not only champions on the tatami but they are true champions in life.
“We had again beautiful champions today. I was really impressed and everybody was by the participation of the Refugee team. It was very moving. The International Judo Federation together with the IOC will determine how we can continue to help them during the Games and outside of the Games.“
Before the last two days of competition there are already 24 countries with medals, when in London, four years ago, there were 23 countries with medal at the end of the tournament. Time for the final conclusion has not come yet, but it is clear that the Rio Games are already a great success.
Japan's double Olympic gold on day five was observed by leading figures from sporting landscape including:
Mr. Rovnag ABDULLAYEV SOCAR President
Mr. Azad RAHIMOV Youth and Sport Minister of Azerbaijan
Mr. Tsunekazu TAKEDA President of Japanese Olympic Committee
Mr. Pere MIRO, Director of Olympic Solidarity
Mrs. Irena SZEWINSKA, IOC Member
Mr. Marius VIZER, IJF President with Mr. Tsunekazu TAKEDA, President of Japanese Olympic Committee
Four-time Grand Slam winner TACHIMOTO Haruka (JPN) struck Olympic gold as she won her country’s first women’s Rio 2016 judo gold medal. London 2012 Olympian TACHIMOTO grabbed her second Olympic chance with both hands as she reduced her older sister, five-time world heavyweight medallist TACHIMOTO Megumi, to tears of joy. TACHIMOTO fought Colombian legend Yuri ALVEAR (COL) in the -70kg final as the latter aimed to win gold having took bronze in London. TACHIMOTO, who finished a very disappointing seventh at the last Games, delivered gold for the Land of The Rising Sun as the Tokai University member threw ALVEAR for a waza-ari and pinned down her opponent in osaekomi to seal gold.
TACHIMOTO, who immediately and touchingly put her gold medal around the shoulders of her sister, said: “My medal is not a surprise for me, because I had decided before that I was going to be the new Olympic champion. I have worked a lot for this so I am not surprised now.
"It is hard to know exactly what has changed from London 2012 until now. But I tried to stay more concentrated and not to repeat the same mistakes that I had done before".
"The medal is mine but, behind it, there is much work of many people who helped me to get it. I want to say thank you to all of them".
TACHIMOTO throws a signed belt into the crowd
In the first semi-final TACHIMOTO bested former world silver medallist Laura VARGAS KOCH (GER) as she scored a waza-ari from a osoto-gari and that was the difference after four minutes. In the second semi-final ALVEAR defeated battling Brit Sally CONWAY who had been in imperious form. CONWAY was her tenacious self and especially on the ground but ALVEAR defended well and countered a ko-uchi-gari attempt in golden score for a match-winning waza-ari.
The first -70kg bronze medal contest presented a prime chance for Great Britain and Austria to win their first judo medals at this Olympic Games and it was Scotland’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist who secured a place on the podium. CONWAY, 29, beat World Judo Masters silver medallist Bernadette GRAF (AUT) by a yuko as the Team GB judoka fought her heart out. The ne-waza specialist was the number one British -70kg fighter going into London which forced Gemma GIBBONS (GBR) to move up the -78kg category and the latter went on to take a sensational silver medal. This time CONWAY, still far and away her country’s top judoka in this category, had her own Olympic moment and medal to savour.
In the second bronze medal contest VARGAS KOCH sent the German judoka and fans wild as she defeated world silver medallist Maria BERNABEU (ESP) by a waza-ari which came in golden score after 69 seconds of added time. A ko-uchi-gake produced the score as VARGAS KOCH handed Germany a much-needed medal and confidence boost with two days left in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games judo competition.
ALVEAR, Yuri (COL) vs TACHIMOTO, Haruka (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
CONWAY, Sally (GBR) vs GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)
VARGAS KOCH, Laura (GER) vs BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)
VARGAS KOCH, Laura (GER) vs TACHIMOTO, Haruka (JPN)
CONWAY, Sally (GBR) vs ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)
1. TACHIMOTO, Haruka (JPN)
2. ALVEAR, Yuri (COL)
3. CONWAY, Sally (GBR)
3. VARGAS KOCH, Laura (GER)
5. GRAF, Bernadette (AUT)
5. BERNABEU, Maria (ESP)
7. ZUPANCIC, Kelita (CAN)
7. BOLDER, Linda (ISR)
Number one seed BAKER Mashu (JPN) started judo at the age of six at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, the spiritual home of judo and most famed dojo in the world. Ever since he stepped foot in the eight floor headquarters of judo in Japan, BAKER had a dream of becoming Olympic champion. Now 21, BAKER, who won the Tokyo Grand Slam in 2013 on his IJF World Judo Tour debut, started as a student of well-known Kodokan sensei MUKAI Mikihiro and has today become one of the youngest judo champions in Olympic history. BAKER looked at home on the Olympic tatami as he lined up for the final opposite three-time world medallist and three-time European champion Varlam LIPARTELIANI (GEO). LIPARTELIANI (GEO), who had already made amends for his early and unexpected London 2012 exit, was urged on by a legion of passionate Georgian fans and team members but today was the today of Japan and BAKER as he scored a yuko in the third minute which was the only score of the contest.
Newly-crowned Olympic champion BAKER, also of Tokai University, who was anxiously awaited matside by his mother and training partners during the awarding ceremony, said “This was my dream from six years old, so I'm really happy now. It was very hard, but I really wanted to be a champion, so I tried my best."
In the first semi-final BAKER defeated the man of the moment in unseeded CHENG Xunzhao (CHN) who had successively beaten Ilias ILIADIS (GRE), TOTH Krisztian (HUN) and Marcus NYMAN (SWE) who were all expected to mount medal tilts. CHENG defeated all three with his explosive and well-timed osoto-gari but could not get past BAKER who scored a waza-ari with a ouchi-gari before pinning down the Chinese fighter with a kuzure-kesa-gatame.
In the second semi-final LIPARTELIANI defeated world champion GWAK Donghan (KOR) as Georgia hoped for gold in their favourite category. Two waza-ari scores guaranteed LIPARTELIANI and his team a medal while GWAK became the latest casualty at this stage for South Korea who could leave Rio 2016 without a gold medal in judo.
The first -90kg Olympic bronze medal contest matched GWAK against NYMAN and it was the former who won through by ippon. GWAK, who had London 2012 Olympic -90kg champion SONG Dae-Nam in the coaching chair for him, won South Korea’s third judo medal at Rio 2016.
The second -90kg Olympic bronze medallist contest saw CHENG make history for China as he became the first male judoka from his country to ever win an Olympic medal. CHENG gave a scintillating display which electrified the public and sports fans around the world and earned the medal he so richly-deserved by beating Abu Dhabi Grand Slam winner LKHAGVASUREN Otgonbaatar (MGL). The Chinese judoka scored a yuko with two minutes left which proved to be the only score of the contest and kissed the tatami in celebration before running to his coach. LKHAGVASUREN fell to his knees and cried as the fine line between victory and defeat, history and despair, Olympic silverware and Olympic heartbreak, was on show for all to see.
History-maker CHENG said: “I am very excited right now. This is the first medal for a Chinese man in judo (at the Olympic Games). The bronze medal means a lot, it means ten years of hard working. The crowd cheered for me and gave me huge support going into this match. I am very happy with the result. I think I progressed so much thanks to our staff and coaches. We have started working with a Korean coach and the whole team, we are like a family and we all together worked very hard."
LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO) vs BAKER, Mashu (JPN)
Bronze Medal Fights
GWAK, Donghan (KOR) vs NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)
CHENG, Xunzhao (CHN) vs LKHAGVASUREN, Otgonbaatar (MGL)
BAKER, Mashu (JPN) vs CHENG, Xunzhao (CHN)
LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO) vs GWAK, Donghan (KOR)
1. BAKER, Mashu (JPN)
2. LIPARTELIANI, Varlam (GEO)
3. GWAK, Donghan (KOR)
3. CHENG, Xunzhao (CHN)
5. NYMAN, Marcus (SWE)
5. LKHAGVASUREN, Otgonbaatar (MGL)
7. IDDIR, Alexandre (FRA)
7. MEHDIYEV, Mammadali (AZE)
Thursday - 11 August
10:00 - 13:00 Preliminaries
15:30 - 18:10 Final block
Friday - 12 August
10:00 - 13:00 Preliminaries
15:30 - 18:10 Final block
Location: Carioca Arena 2
IJF Media & Communications Department
Mark Pickering, IJF Media Manager
Nicolas Messner, IJF Media Director
Photos © IJF Media by G. Sabau, Tamas Zahonyi and Jack Willingham
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